Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

NATO, CIA blame Pakistan peace talks and warm weather for Afghan unrest.

According to The News (Pakistan), NATO spokesman Captain Mike Finney told reporters that while warm weather had played a part in increasingly successful Taliban attacks: “There is also evidence that the activities increased by some 40 percent since tribal areas became unregulated following the negotiations between the Pakistan government and Baitullah Mehsud."

Stephen Kappes, deputy director of the CIA joined Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for a secret meeting with senior Pakistani civilian and military leaders on July 12. According to the Telegraph (UK), "the CIA pointed to links between the ISI and the militant network led by Jalaluddin Haqqani, who is believed to maintain close ties to senior figures of al-Qaeda in Pakistan's tribal areas."

Later in July, a report presented to Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani days before he traveled to the United States estimated that 8,000 foreign fighters were living mainly in North and South Waziristan and Bajaur Agencies.

"Taliban sources on the other hand are not ready to confirm that they are hosting thousands of foreign fighters in their areas. They claim that the number of foreigners is just a few hundred and most of them are living in the tribal areas from the time when the American CIA and Pakistani ISI encouraged them to come and fight against the Soviet Union" (Mir The News Jul 21 08).

When pressed by the same reporter, Hamid Mir, Pakistan's Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, "conceded that the number of foreign fighters was about 1,000."

Mir goes on to say that
"According to some Afghan sources, foreign fighters are welcomed not only in the Pakistani tribal areas but also in eastern, southern and western Afghanistan....A few years ago, Pakistan was the safest route for foreign fighters to enter into Afghanistan but now they rarely use this old route. Most of them come as tourists and traders directly ... to Kabul by different airlines. Many Afghans...are working for them as travel agents. It is also very easy to make a new Afghan passport for them in Kabul."

So once again, NATO and the US may be gearing up to counter last year's Taliban strategy. Meanwhile, Asia Times' bureau chief in Pakistan offers this summary:
Even as the United States rebukes Pakistan over its performance in the "war on terror", it hands Islamabad four F-16 fighter jets as a reward for siding with Washington. Then the US launches a missile attack into Pakistani territory, killing an al-Qaeda commander. These contradictions test Islamabad's will, to the advantage of the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

" unidentified jihadi group (about 200 strong) attacked a US-commanded outpost in the Kunnar-Nuristan area of East Afghanistan and forced its withdrawal on July 13,2008." (Raman Jul 21 08).

Indian security expert Bahukutumbi Raman expresses concern that Indian muslims may be implicated in the increased attacks within Afghanistan and elsewhere.

A suicide outside the Indian embassy in Kabul (Jul 7 08) killed 41 earlier this month; 7 simultaneous blasts in Bangalore killed 2 people in Bangalore, India's IT hub (BBC Jul 7 08); on Saturday the 26th, 17 timed blasts struck residential areas, market places, public transport and hospitals within an hour in the city of Ahmedabad. (BBC Jul 28 08)Recommend this Post

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